FFfAW: Bright enough to shame the sun

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Michelle De Angelis. Thank you Michelle!


 

Masts stripe the water, their reflections breaking into nonsense with the ripples.

The bridge raises, the pleasure boats scudding through like eager ducks. It’s summer so families have gathered, trapped on either side of the water by the raised bridge, children waving happily to the skippers floating below them, sun glowing from every bronzed face.

And then there’s me. I’m pale where they are brown, the Moon to their myriad Suns.

My hands are cold. My limbs white beneath layers of wool and linen, I am smooth and flawless as a tomb carving.

Here, stranded – this is my natural state. Close to mankind, but cut off from it, I walk among them but never touch, never make contact … not until I must. Then I burn, bright enough to shame the sun, bright enough to blind.

The bridge lowers. The families disperse to buy ice cream and eat doughnuts.

I walk among them, waiting for my time.

 


Written for Priceless Joy’s FFfAW. Be inspired by the pic and write a tale here. This started as a reflection on the water and turned into … whatever this is. Vampire? Ghoul? Someone with an acute allergy to the sun? What do you think was going on in my head when I wrote this?

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Call for Urban Fantasy beta readers … tentatively

 

The Shambles, York, Tudor buildings
Image : Pixabay

 

Having finally finished the first draft/second draft/alpha read rewrite of my work in progress – The Restless Dead – I’m now searching for some lovely people who enjoy fantasy fiction to be my beta readers.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader, here are some things you should know … 

The book is Urban Fantasy, not High Fantasy. There are no swords and mages, no orcs or elves. It’s set in the present, in real towns in the UK. Supernatural things occur, and a lot of them, but think more Neil Gaiman or Ben Aaronovitch than JRR Tolkien or George RR Martin.

The book is around 300 pages long.

There will be a questionnaire to fill in. I’m working on it now and will try not to make it too onerous! Though, if you’re used to sending critiques, want to write your own notes and are happy to cover the points I raise, that’s fine too.

Ideally, the process will last no further than Christmas. Though that’s open to discussion, of course – you all have other stuff to do!

This book is based in the UK. One of the main ‘characters’ in the book is the city of York, UK (see above!). The settings are English, the language is ‘English’ English, with English phrases and references.

Now, on to the fun bit …

I loved writing this book! I loved getting to know the characters – good, bad and utterly demonic – and I hope that comes across. I want reading it to be enjoyable too. I want the readers to be caught up in every the running, screaming, drunken, creepy scene.

And if you’re still there, here’s the blurb to give you a flavour of the beast …

Thirty-five-year-old Neil sees ghosts. Or at least the last few minutes of an individual’s life, repeated over and over. Death fills every street he walks along, every home he enters. No wonder he lives a reclusive life alone in his bedsit watching Miss Marple reruns and eating cheese puffs. 
Then one day an old friend – Caro – comes knocking, telling Neil her brother is dead. The police say it’s suicide. She says it isn’t. Luckily, she knows someone who can tell her if she’s right … 
Can Neil solve the mystery, evade Victorian psychopaths, shape shifting demons and save the world from an invasion of the Restless Dead? 

Interested? Want to know more? Then pop me an email. You’ll find the address by clicking the ‘hamburger’ symbol up the top of the screen. My email is in ‘view full profile’ under my terrifying photograph! Look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Parallel Worlds

 

 

It’s only after thirty years away, I see how idyllic my childhood home is and I have the strangest feeling of seeing two parallel worlds, as if each eye is imprinted with a different image, my brain struggling to reconcile the two.

There is the picture window gazing onto the endless ocean, a porch swing wide enough for two, a spotless white picket fence.

Blink and I see the other world …

… six years old, paint brush falling from my hand as a boot kicks me from behind. The graze on my temple from the fence  …

… shivering on the porch swing as the dark creeps in, as wild things snuffle closer, as the shouting from inside turns to screams …

… banging at the picture window as my mother walks away, never turning, never looking back …

Tugging my collar against the wind, I’m glad of its beauty.

It means it will sell quickly.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt inspired by Google Street View. This week we are on Mackinac Island, Michigan. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers : The sting of ash

PHOTO PROMPT © Carla Bicomong


 

‘Dodie, wait!’

Gray’s voice carried over the scrubby boulders, through gnarly sea oak and salted grass. I should have stopped, but the smell of burning pushed me on, pulled me up the hill when I stumbled.

Not wanting to see, needing to see.

I reached the cliff edge, a sudden wind nearly knocking me sideways, nearly blinding me with the stink of burning, the sting of ash. I looked below through squinted eyes.

A hundred pyres drifting on a mirror sea, each one a livelihood, each one a future.

‘All the boats,’ I gasped, disbelieving. ‘They burned them all.’

 


Written for Rochell Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the picture and write a tale and don’t forget to share, read and comment on other stories. See here to join in.

 

Three Line Tales : Midas touch


three line tales, week 128: a golden person

photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Skillshare


 

The royal apartments lay heavy under the stench of a hundred fires. He’d opened the shutters the evening before, sat shivering at the window seat as the sharp stink of burning wood, the tang of hot metal – even the sweat of the founders – fouled the air.

How was his love? Fretful, sleepless, on her knees in prayer? He closed his eyes at the thought of her wasted frame chafed by a rough flax shift, just as he closed his eyes to the note she had passed the jailer. That wavering handwriting – so changed from the sinuous curves of her early love letters – crawled through his nights, scratched at his tranquility like a fleshing knife.

The judgement had been unanimous, it was out of his hands. And the punishment for treason had remained the same since his great grandfather’s time. But he was still the king – one word to the executioner had been enough. Molten gold would replace lead.


Written for Three Line Tales. See the pic and send a link here.

I know this is a horrible end, but it is not without historical precedent. According to Smithsonian.com both the Ancient Romans and South American tribes used molten gold as a method of execution. Though perhaps not KIng Midas himself.

 

 

#tuesdayuseitinasentence : The rest is silence

 

Swings, playground, play park, deserted, decay

Image : Pixabay


Afterwards, it was as if all noise had been sucked from the world.

The rumble-hum of traffic she could live without, the infant wail of car alarms and waspish hedge cutters.

But the trees no longer hushed in the wind, the grasses stopped whispering beneath them. The blackbirds no longer chattered, the sparrows ceased their bickering.

The playground was the worst – no laughter, no tears, even the swings stopped creaking.

The only sound came from her own body – groans of hunger, a cough, a rattle of phlegm in tired lungs.

Perhaps it was time to complete the silence.

 


Written for Stephanie Colpron’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Take the word – this week it’s SILENCE – and write some words. See here to join in.

The title is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the eponymous hero’s dying words.

And here, just for fun is my favourite Depeche Mode song.

 

What Pegman Saw: Ahriman snips away the world

 

 

The cafe lights bleached the night, washing colour from the hoardings, turning people to cut outs.

Ahriman imagined taking sharp scissors, snipping away plastic chairs and litter bins, sycamore trees and scraps of discarded samusa, leaving only the figures behind, their legs bent in mid step, lifting cups of black tea to puckered lips. He saw the paper people stacked like plates, shuffled like playing cards, packed away when he tired of them.

He used to love humanity, its endless capacity for greed and hatred, its skill at weaving lies, glittering webs to trap the innocent before the fatal strike.

Now he walked among these flimsy beings, sharing the fragile beat of their hearts, the flicker of pulse so easy to snuff out.

Passing the fountain, a cool mist played across his skin, damping his hair.

Life had been better when he was a god.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tehran in Iran. See here to share, read and comment.

Notes

Ahriman is another name for Angra Mainyu, a destructive spirit in Zoroastrianism. Many believe Angra Mainyu will ultimately be destroyed, his power quenched. I imagined him passing into human form, becoming obsolete.

Samusa are pastries filled with spicy meat and vegetables. See here to discover more delicious Iranian food.